Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Quest

I really do apologise for not writing blog posts frequently...

Using Facebook has consumed much of my time, as it tends to do...
While out on hiatus, I went out to the UC Santa Barbara recorded sound archive, which was an eyeopener! if you know anyone in association with the archive, I would highly recommend going there to dig through cylinders and 78's, and everything else they've got stored there. I really should share a few pictures from the tour! Thanks to knowing people there, I got a full tour of the place, which was endlessly interesting...
It began with a Bell and Tainter machine...
 What a nice picture of that seal!
The inside bits, with a date indicating c.1893 as the date on this scarce machine.
What an amazing way to start!
I got to see the Zon-O-Phone project in process as we began our tour, with a guy taking those high quality pictures of the labels that can be seen on the LOC  website, such as the one below!
This guy was taking those fancy pictures of Zon-O-Phone records right before our eyes! He was taking a picture of a few Zon-O-Phone orchestra records as I recall. For those of you wondering about the Zon-O-Phone project, it's going strong, and making progress every day. 
We then were taken to where the good stuff was---the cylinders! 
Oh yes, that's what it looked like. It's heaven for sure.
Where do we start? it was hard to make decisions of what I wanted to see, since pretty much half the records I've listened to for the past 6 years have been from this very place. The kind young man giving us the tour was really into the Pathe cylinders, so he showed us where most of those are kept, and he was also really into the newly transferred Mexican and Cuban cylinders they recently acquired. 
There are some of those Pathe Concert cylinders. Most of them have the original boxes and record slips, which is really nice.
The guy who was supposed to give us the tour was out of town, so one of his skilled young assistants did the tour, that's why there wasn't as much Columbia digging as there usually would be(that would have kept me there all day...). We soon got to some Columbia's! Of course we did. That's the good stuff.
Since i had for years hear Myers sing "The Bell Buoy", I asked to go see it and hold it. 
What a life-changing little thing! I had never seen or held a North American before. It felt less fragile than the usual brown waxes we usually see and hold. It felt sturdy and ready to be played. A feeling that doesn't usually come when holding brown wax. 
That beautiful, but empty channel rim.
Couldn't believe I was holding that in my hands. It's in beautiful shape for its age, but it looks just as great as it sounds.
Absolutely beautiful, especially after holding it. 
The cylinder was also much darker than I thought North American's were. They could easily be mistaken for Columbia records from c.1902, if you didn't notice the channel rim. 
Later I also spotted a few Len Spencer cylinders...(knowing the Columbia block for him helps...)
You can hear this here:
This one looks how it sounds for sure.
I also requested to hold that infamous cylinder "Will O' The Wisp" by Myers, just to see if it's worth getting transferred...
and how it is!

It's in gorgeous condition, and fully worth getting transferred! Hopefully the tale of Hylands playing this piece till he dropped is fully demonstrated with this cylinder. I had assumed it would he the same shade of brown as "Little Yaller Coon" by Spencer, but it's comparable to the North American's shade, which was unexpected. There were also some newly acquired editions of Hobbies written by Jim Walsh, but they were poorly patched together and not in good shape in the first place(they were rather brittle and yellowing). Those were interesting, since I had never seen these famous articles in their entirety, nor had I held any of them in my hands. That was some thing there it was...
That was all nice, with record catalogs we dug through, saw some piano rolls, piles of disc records, record encyclopedias, and miscellaneous stuff related to records stacked in shelves and we saw the boss' office! Mr. Seubert's office was especially nice, with some of the most interesting books about records and recording, and a few machines on shelves and scattered catalogs. 

Enough of that...since it's certain I will be visiting again very soon...

Now for the main reason of this post, referring to the title listed above.
This "mission" is something I've been piecing together for a while now, and it's beginning to take form now. In just over a year from now, I will be trekking to the Eastern U. S. to tour the North East to write a book. This book will be a journal of my travels in historical documentation, which will include tracking down and visiting all of the studio locations, recording artists' homes, publishing firms, theaters, and anything else related of interest. On this quest, I will go all of these places and write a day-to-day journal of thoughts and connections, as well as documentation of where and if things are still in place. 
Among these places that I will visit will include the following:

1155 Broadway(Columbia), 33 W. 27th street, most of E. 14th street(where all the theaters were and where musicians lived), where Frank P. Banta lived, stroll down 28th street(Tin Pan Alley), Columbia's headquarters in Washington DC, Sousa's house in DC, The site of the Berliner studio in DC, the street corner where Gaisberg indicated he discovered George Graham, where the Spencer Business college was in DC, find where John Yorke AtLee lived in DC, find all the famous theaters where the big early Broadway shows premiered, visit the Edison recording studio address in NYC(on 5th avenue), visit the very house that Russell Hunting and Charlie Carson lived and were arrested in(!), find where Vess Ossman lived,  Spencer's Lyceum, visit all the places where Hylands lived in New York, go to where this picture was taken:
(and maybe even get a few rag-time friends to pose similarly here if this place is still there somewhere...)
Of course, I intend to do some of this journey with my good friends on the East coast, like Charlie, who almost every day walks by some of these historic places. I will go inside all of these places(the ones that are left...) and dig around for any remnants of the history that happened there. I'd be especially curious about what might be hidden in the house Russell Hunting was arrested in. That could be very interesting and fruitful all the same, since he had to have hid things in that house somewhere... This also goes for the places where Hylands lived, since he was very unorganized it seems, he may have left some stuff occasionally while moving. The boardinghouse he lived in around 1910 would also be curious, since that was a house full of actors. Finding all of these places where the recording stars lived will be a chore...since I know where only a few of them lived at a certain point while they were recording. Certainly I will visit the fabled Dyker Heights where Spencer and Porter lived so highly around 1899 and 1900. I'll find all the musicians too, Issler, Schweinfest, Tuson, Dana, Hager, Geib(he played tuba for Edison early on), Banta, Chris. Booth, Arthur Pryor, Albert Benzler, Gaisberg, etc. The recording stars homes will remain a priority, because as soon as I get to the east coast, I ought to track down as many addresses as I can and notify them that I will be doing all of this "snooping" around if you will, for historical research. Luckily their addresses(some of them) are scattered around in recording magazines and theatrical papers. After getting the home addresses, I will start with the recording studios, and luckily, this will mean passing by Columbia at 27th and Broadway many times ,which is perfect for writing often about the amount of historic things that occurred there in such a short period of time. Many entries will refer to the Columbia studio, as well as the Edison studio(in NYC), and it helps that both of these places are on the way to other places of interest. I will also make many commutes that the recording stars once made, such as Gaskin, Spener(wherever he lived from 1897-1900...), Porter, Banta, Hylands(of course), Roger Harding, Issler(to where the U.S. Company was, and to Columbia), Schweinfest, Tuson, and the rest of the studio musicians we can track down. Of course, this quest wouldn't be complete without visiting the graves of everyone! 
I already visited and cleaned up Vess Ossman's grave, so one down... a whole lot more to go. I got to go find everyone on the east coast(if they didn't end up anywhere else). Luckily, Victor Emerson didn't end up there, he ended up not too far from me actually, in the valley of California..(what a coincidence). Unfortunately, one of my favourites to visit, Fred Hager, is in Florida, and there's no way I'm going to Florida just for that. 
As much as I love you Hager, you're in an awfully inconvenient place for me to visit so soon. Sometime along the line when I'm in Florida I will go pay a visit to him with a huge bundle of blood red roses tied in old silk with a bow, and a lot of kind sweet words to say for him. 
Also, when I go an do the grave visiting, I will have bundles of specific flowers to place on them. For Banta of course, will be a bunch of pretty violets. For Hylands, a few pink carnations, sunflowers, yellow roses and a single blood red rose. For the rest of these performers, I will have to make a key to what certain flowers represent, and make sure to match what I feel about them and what they were like. Of course, there will be mixed messages in many of these bundles, like Hylands' I just listed. The pink carnations are more disdainful, sunflowers haughty and flamboyant, yellow roses for infidelity, and the red for passion and devotion. This will go on and on as I piece together the bundles for everyone...

Anyhow, that's all I got for now. I pretty much explained this quest fully. 

Hope you enjoyed this! 

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